Summer Starts and Tony Stewart Begins

Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Much has been made about how Tony Stewart pours it on during the hot summer months in NASCAR. Tony has actually started a little early and is coming off four straight top ten finishes including one win bringing himself up from a low of 24th in the standings to tenth. Tony Stewart is ready to make left and right turns to take him to victory lane in the Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

The road course at Sonoma is a 1.99 mile course that has 12 turns.  It is one of the two road courses that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits.  Racing is always about the speed and handling of the race car.  Racing on a road course is all that plus braking and pit strategy. In road course racing passes are made by being able to drive into a corner deeper than your opponent then out braking them to complete the pass.

You’ve just got to have a good handling car. Aerodynamics are not the least bit important at Sonoma, which is great because it’s one of the few tracks that we go to that we don’t have to worry about aero balance or anything like that.” Stewart said, “It’s just a matter of keeping a well-balanced car all day and having good pit stops and pit strategy and staying out of trouble.

Pit strategy at a road course is typically put together by running the race backwards and planning the last pit stop when one knows or thinks they know that there is just enough fuel to make it to the end. The race is 350 Kilometers or 110 laps.

When thinking about who will win the race, NASCAR provides statistical data about each drivers history at the track. In this case Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose are the class of the field in a statistical tie with driver ratings of 107.8, 107.5 and 106.8 respectively.

Of those three drivers Tony Stewart has an average finish of 10.9 in 14 races. He won this race in 2001 and 2005.

Stewart said, “I just like the road courses. I’ve always liked Sonoma. It’s really a driver’s track. It’s tough to make your car drive perfect all day. You can have a really good car, but it’s going to slide around and you’re going to struggle for grip, and that’s what makes it so fun. You have to do the work behind the steering wheel.

That is why Tony Stewart will win the Toyota-Save Mart 350.  If you can’t get to Sonoma Raceway the race will be broadcast on TNT, Sunday June 23rd at 2 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for RantSports.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

Top 12 Driver Rating at Sonoma
Kurt Busch………………………….. 107.8
Tony Stewart……………………….. 107.5
Marcos Ambrose………………….. 106.8
Jeff Gordon………………………… 101.1
Juan Pablo Montoya………………. 97.8
Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 96.6
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 93.3
Kyle Busch…………………………… 92.8
Ryan Newman……………………….. 89.9
Carl Edwards………………………… 84.9
Elliott Sadler…………………………. 84.9
Jamie McMurray…………………….. 84.4
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (eight total) among active drivers at Sonoma Raceway.


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